The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 24 May 2016

Image: Maxim Shemevov/PA Images

Cold comfort

With the Russian economy already mired in recession and facing an extended period of stagnation, the presidential economic council is due to meet tomorrow for the first time in three years. President Vladimir Putin will be presented with a report by the think-tank Center for Strategic Research and hear from economic development minister Alexei Ulyukayev. The main aim of the meeting is to plan a path to restoring annual growth of 4 per cent by the end of the decade and ideally before 2018 (it’s no coincidence that this is also the year Putin might seek a fourth term in office). But all measures available to the government have a cost and the administration is already running a huge budget deficit. Unless the council can lift global oil prices or western sanctions, tomorrow’s meeting will do little to warm up the sub-zero economy.

Gaining altitude

US private-aviation company Flexjet has announced plans to cross the Atlantic and land in a crowded European market. The firm, which celebrated 20 years of offering fractional ownership in 2015, has hired London-based international managing director and will beef up its European operations to take on established continental players such as VistaJet and NetJets Europe. It’s positive news for the industry: despite contributing €146bn to the EU economy, business-aviation activity fell by 2 per cent last year, according to the European Business Aviation Association. Monocle 24 is reporting all week from EBACE 2016, the European business-aviation expo held in Geneva. Tune in for more on the industry’s highs and lows.

Image: Michele Burgess/Alamy Images

Paying the price

Confidence in Turkey’s lira took another a hit on Saturday when, during a visit to a school in Istanbul, Nobel Laureate scientist Aziz Sancar pointed out that the DNA double helix featured on the back of the five-lira note is factually wrong (it’s incorrectly entwined left to right). But the lira’s troubles don’t end with this design boo-boo; the abrupt departure of the prime minister earlier this month has caused deep tremors in the currency. Meanwhile, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is putting pressure on the bank to slash interest rates and new presumptive PM Binali Yildirim seems intent on supporting him. Reshuffles like this, the latest in a list of seismic changes in recent Turkish politics, make for shaky ground for the lira’s rebound.

Image: Kuhnmi

Heidi, hi

More than a century after it was written, Heidi is still proving a soft -power icon for Switzerland – not to mention a tourist draw. A region in the east of the country is already known as Heidiland due to its inspiration for author Johanna Spyri’s novel, and now ski resort Flumserberg is planning to capitalise on the fictional character. Plans are in the works for two hotels, a gondola and a new attraction called the Heidi Experience, which will see costumed actors recreating the 19th-century story. The local tourism authority, which is organising the project, hopes that the scheme will bring in as many as 300,000 new visitors a year. Though there is no set date for the completion of the project, fans of the story have other options nearby: the village of Maienfeld (pictured) already boasts several Heidi-themed attractions, including a museum, trails and village stores.

From Monocle 24

Image: Salva Lopez

Culture goes cruising

Franco Pili, cruise director of the ‘MSC Preziosa’, is an old hand with a young heart and matchless energy for running around, talking fluently and constantly in half a dozen languages and being the very voice of the ship. For up to five months at a time Franco takes charge of everything from aerobics classes to the big nightly shows in the 1,600-seater showpiece theatre.

From Monocle Films

Cruise-ship entertainers

From glitzy dance numbers and well-loved show tunes to conga lines, entertainment is key to cruising success. Monocle Films grabs a lounger and joins in the fun.

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